Most authors join critique groups for the purpose of having others give feedback on their work, but did you know that receiving feedback is probably the least important offering a critique group has? If you ask me (someone who has never been in a critique group) the most valuable offering of a critique group is the feedback you give others or others receive on their work.
We can listen to criticism all day long, but at some point it becomes really difficult to see our own work. It’s hard for me to see that Aunt Jane is coming off as snippy and annoying. After all, she’s based on my own favorite aunt. It’s also difficult for me to see that I’ve created a plot that’s difficult to follow. I know exactly how it’s going to play out so it’s not difficult for me. But when I’m reading someone else’s work and see how her Aunt Joan is snippy and yet very similar to Aunt Jane I can start to better see some of my own weaknesses, as well as my own strengths.
When you get involved in a critique group jump in with both feet. Don’t just wait for what others have to say about your work, but pay close attention to what you’re seeing in their work as well. I promise, this could be the most valuable piece of your experience.